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Using oatmeal flour or rice flour in beef stew to make it gluten-free

I'm minutes away from making a big double batch of beef stew for an out-of-town weekend with friends. The recipe (from "The New Best Recipe" -- I've made it before -- it's delish, though needs more black pepper) calls for a bit of flour to thicken the sauce/gravy.

Unfortunately one of the kids joining us has Celiac disease and is strictly gluten-free.

So, do you think it make sense to use rice flour (which I'd have to buy) or oatmeal flour (which would be preferable as I could just grind up some gluten-free oatmeal I have in the spice grinder)? Would either of these have the same properties when it comes to thicken up the gravy?

While Peter no longer works for Food52 he still thinks up ways to make the website better.

asked almost 2 years ago
13 answers 3405 views
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added almost 2 years ago

You could dust the meat with cornstarch (if thats what you're doing) or suggest the rice flour. I know both work but unsure about the oatmeal. For thickening perhaps tapoica? Have fun!

P1291120
added almost 2 years ago

And -- if you decide to go with the oatmeal -- make sure it is labeled GLUTEN FREE. This is very important when cooking for a celiac. Oats are naturally GF, but there is so much cross-contamination in the growing, storing, processing that Celiacs cannot eat oats unless they are certified GF. You won't have this issue if you go with rice flour, tapioca flour (my favorite), cornstarch or the potato. I haven't tried this particular recipe so don't know what would work best, but did want to provide the caution on oats.

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Peter

While Peter no longer works for Food52 he still thinks up ways to make the website better.

added almost 2 years ago

Yep, it's certified gluten-free. Thanks for the warning though.

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Peter

While Peter no longer works for Food52 he still thinks up ways to make the website better.

added almost 2 years ago

All of these sound like good answers. I think I'll go rice flour or tapioca flour. It's not for dusting the meat but to stir in the pot to make a roux-like substance before adding everything to the pot.

Does anyone know how much I should use of tapioca or rice flour? Is it a one to one substitution?

Gator_cake
hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

added almost 2 years ago

I'd add it in a slurry, like you would for gravy rather than try to make a roux. I think if you went with the oat flour it would work as a roux. Since the recipe calls for browning the flour, it will have less thickening power so definitely use less starch. I'd start with no more than half (and probably be chicken and start with less) since you can always add more slurry!

5.15.11_coconut_macaroons_best_sm
added almost 2 years ago

Rice or tapioca flour can both work for a roux; just add more fat than you're used to using for a typical roux. My favorite soup thickener is sweet rice flour, which has a better texture than regular rice flour and won't give the soup a jelly-like consistency the way tapioca flour can. Sweet rice flour also doesn't clump as easily as other flours. I'd use around 3-4 Tbls sweet rice flour for about 8-10 cups stew. But I also like hardlikearmour's suggestion about the potato. I've done that in the past for gluten-free beef stew and it works really well.

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added almost 2 years ago

I agree with the sweet rice flour - I use a slurry of that whenever I thicken gravies. I've never tried oatmeal flour as a thickener. If you want to use cornstarch, be careful not to cook it too long after it has thickened, as cornstarch breaks down and thins out again with long cooking. If you are going to use any of the starches, here is the comparison: 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) cornstarch or potato starch or sweet rice flour = 4 teaspoons tapioca starch = 2 teaspoons arrowroot starch

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added almost 2 years ago

Forgot to add - the reason I like sweet rice flour is that it's texture is the closest to regular flour. It doesn't make the gravy clear and shiny like the starches do.

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added almost 2 years ago

We use corn flour (the kind used to make tortilla, not the grittier kind for making tamales) as a thickener for chili and such, maybe 4 tablespoons for a big batch (3 pounds+ of meat), it thickens nicely and doesn't have the problem of losing it's thickening power if cooked too long or at too high a heat. That's what I would go with.

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Peter

While Peter no longer works for Food52 he still thinks up ways to make the website better.

added almost 2 years ago

Hey all, just thought I'd drop an update on how it went.

I used Potato Starch, I added it early on, and started with just 50% of the quantity of flour called for as I didn't know how it would behave.

As it turned out I never added any more and the overall consistency seemed dead-on. The gravy/juices were thick and toothsome -- not at all watery.

Hope this info helps someone in the future and thanks for all the suggestions and information.

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added almost 2 years ago

Great to know!

Junechamp
ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added almost 2 years ago

I've been making Beef Stew since I was a pup and have never used flour in it. We always have potatoes in the stew, and enough of them disintegrate to combine with the reducing of the liquid ingredients to provide plenty of thickening.